Fast improving Cheuk Ming-ho will have another crack at reaching the Olympic Games A qualifying standard on Sunday after coming close to making the grade in the men’s 200 metres freestyle at Victoria Park on Saturday. Competing on the opening day of the Division I long course competition, the 19-year-old prodigy clocked one minute and 47.61 seconds to win his event, the third time he has broken the Hong Kong record in three months. He was a little over half a second slower than the Olympic qualifying standard of 1:47.02 but he feels he’s coming close to the mark. Cheuk will have another attempt at the mark in Sunday’s competition, but this time the teenager will try to achieve the feat in the 400 metres freestyle, where he hopes to clock it during the split times. So far, no Hong Kong male swimmer has ever achieved the Olympic A qualifying standard. “My plan was to achieve the target in today’s race and even though I came close and bettered my own Hong Kong record, the result was still a bit disappointing,” said the promising freestyle specialist. “I was too tense in the first 100 metres and even if I swam a good second half, I couldn’t reach the target. Cheuk smashes two Hong Kong records to boost Olympic hopes “Everything has been going well as far as preparation and training goes and it’s up to me to prove it in the pool. Hopefully I will not put too much pressure on myself.” Amid the pandemic, Hong Kong has held three Olympic qualifiers this year, but they all took place behind closed doors at the Sports Institute with no fans and media allowed in its Fo Tan training complex. But for the first time, the meet was opened to the public, albeit by small numbers. “Today’s atmosphere was far better than the first three meets at the Sports Institute. I could even hear my clubmates’ drums cheer me on during the race,” said the champion. “And this is also the first time my father could watch me in more than a year and I really wanted to show everybody how much effort I have put to achieve the result.” The Swimming Association will hold two more qualifying meets in June but Cheuk wants to reach the Olympic A mark “as soon as possible”. “I don’t want to think about how many more races are left before I can accomplish the target. I just want to make it in my next event,” he said. “It all comes down to the 0.6 second difference and if I can improve my first 100 metres and be more consistent, I am confident of making it.” Cheuk first broke the record when he clocked 1:48.46 in March, shattering the previous best held by Wong Kai-wai – now an Institute coach – at 1:49.58. He further improved his own mark to 1:47.97 a month later before bettering the mark again on Saturday. Siobhan Haughey to boost Hong Kong relay team qualify for Tokyo Meanwhile, top swimmer Siobhan Haughey was a notable absentee in the women’s 200 metre freestyle as she saves her energy for Sunday’s 4x100 medley relay, where Hong Kong are hoping to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics . Haughey, who has qualified for three individual events, will be featured in the relay – swimming the butterfly leg. Tam Hoi-lam, who won the 50 metres freestyle on Saturday, will swim the anchor in the last 100 metres. “We have already tried this combination in practice and it seems fine,” said Tam, a final year student at University of British Columbia in Canada. “We have never tried this combination at international competition before but if we don’t give it a go, we cannot qualify for the Tokyo Olympics .” Hong Kong must finish the relay in under four minutes and two seconds if they want to qualify for Tokyo. They clocked 4:03.52 at the 2019 Worlds to claim 14th position. Lau Shiu-yue also broke the men’s 100 metre backstroke record with a time of 56.50 seconds. The previous best mark of 56.63 was held by Geoffrey Cheah.